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Sad face, masque

Image courtesy of FreeDigitaalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles

So you’ve put your past behind you? You’ve been to therapy and turned yourself inside out in order to deal with your demons and find the silver lining on your clouded past. Life’s been tough but you’re an overcomer. Good for you! Most people don’t have the courage. Well done. You’re going from strength to strength, right?

Hang on a minute! There’s someone in your life who thinks differently; someone you love, or someone who is an unavoidable part of your life who’s not letting you move on; who doesn’t recognize your growth. Each and every time you’re discussing an issue; trying to make your point heard; simply baring your soul, or building a bridge – what happens?

‘Oh … but you’ve had three failed relationships.’ ‘Oh … but you never finished your education.’ Or how about my personal favourite – ‘You’re sick in the head because of your past childhood sexual abuse. Everything you do and say is coloured by it. That’s why your so angry all the time.’

The implication? You failure, you! You hopeless case. You value-less human being. Why should anyone EVER listen to what you say? Or believe you? Who cares about the circumstances you’ve struggled through and healed from? You will forever be a disappointment in their eyes – the subject of derision and devaluation. Why? Because it makes them feel better to believe that. Because if they look fairly and squarely at what you’ve been through … what you’ve conquered … they’ll have to admit they couldn’t do what  you did. They’re not strong enough.

And so they throw it in your face – time and time again.

You’ll find yourself endlessly wanting to have rational discussions about the issues and difficulties of life; of your relationship … but you’ll find yourself dragged back down to one point … one and only point. Your shortcomings … your vulnerabilities … your past. You’ve dealt with it … but they haven’t. So they use it against you – to WIN. To silence you. To win the power struggle that is their sole goal. Abusers view every interaction as a win/lose situation and they’re determined that they’ll win and you’ll lose. Psychologically healthy individuals realize that, where relationships are concerned, when one person loses, the whole relationship loses. The ‘winner’ gains power but never intimacy.

If you find yourself bringing up the same grievances time and time again, look for the bait you’re being thrown to distract you from the issue at hand. Distraction is one of the most manipulative tools a controlling person can use against you. It confuses you; throws you off the trail and makes you instantly the bad guy, no matter what the other party has done to harm you. It just one more ugly game in their repertoire. Don’t fall for it. And remember, mud sticks best to the cleanest wall.